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J1 M40 Sept 2019

(1) Highways England’s contractors report favourably to HE on the condition of the highways they are paid to maintain.

(2) Highways England pass this on to the Office of Rail and Road (ORR), their statutory monitor.

(3) The ORR then report that “
Highways England is meeting its target to keep the network in good condition

But does this look like a network in good condition to you?

This is what the ORR’s 2019 Annual Assessment of Highways England has to say about road surfaces, verges and drainage.

Pavement – i.e. road surface

I asked the ORR for the data on which the 95.5% was based including the documents supplied by HE including any supporting material from their contractors. I was given links to two documents.

The clip above shows that the figure was taken from HE’s Performance Monitoring Statement. No other supporting material was provided.

The other document was the HE Operational Metrics Manual Jan 2019. This included the following on page 204 under data collection:

Recording of maintenance is part of the Managing Agents duties and is described in the Quality Plan for each Agent……. but no checks are undertaken by Highways England …..

In other words the Managing Agents i.e. HE’s contractors, the people we are paying to keep the carriageways in a good condition are marking their own homework.

Geotechnical assetsverges and embankments

In spite of the fact that our motorways verges are widely overgrown with scrub the ORR state that Highways England reports that 97.2% of its geotechnical assets did not require remedial interventions. (Page 49).

But again the Operational Metrics Manual says: The relevant data is captured by service providers.

Drainage assets – gullies, inlets/outlets, ditches/channels

ORR: The percentage of the network with drainage condition data is 33% in 2018-19. (Page 49)

The Operational Metrics Manual says Highways England will regularly send to DfT and ORR the condition of the drains for which we have condition information to allow transparent reporting. However the ORR’s report has nothing to say about the condition of HE’s drains. I can however report that many of the drains on HE’s section of the A40 in Bucks are blocked by detritis and vegetation.

ORR’s annual assessment of Highways England 2018/19 – Litter

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Peter Silverman
9th September 2019


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